Sign in to turn on 1-Click ordering.
Trade in Yours
For a 0.25 Gift Card
Trade in
More Buying Choices
Have one to sell? Sell yours here
Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Image not available

Tell the Publisher!
Id like to read this book on Kindle

Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here, or download a FREE Kindle Reading App.

Our Inner Ape: The Best and Worst of Human Nature [Paperback]

Frans de Waal
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
Price: 9.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o
Only 5 left in stock (more on the way).
Dispatched from and sold by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.
Want it tomorrow, 1 Aug.? Choose Express delivery at checkout. Details


Amazon Price New from Used from
Hardcover --  
Paperback 9.99  
Trade In this Item for up to 0.25
Trade in Our Inner Ape: The Best and Worst of Human Nature for an Amazon Gift Card of up to 0.25, which you can then spend on millions of items across the site. Trade-in values may vary (terms apply). Learn more

Book Description

4 Sep 2006
We have long attributed man's violent, aggressive, competitive nature to his animal ancestry. But what if we are just as given to cooperation, empathy, and morality by virtue of our genes? From a scientist and writer whom E.O. Wilson has called 'the world authority on primate social behavior' comes a lively look at the most provocative aspects of human nature - power, sex, violence, kindness, and morality - through our two closest cousins in the ape family. For nearly 20 years, Frans de Waal has worked with both the famously aggressive chimpanzee and the lesser-known egalitarian, erotic, matriarchal bonobo, two species whose DNA is nearly identical to that of humans. He brings these apes to life on every page, revealing their personalities, relationships, and power struggles, creating an engrossing narrative that explores what their behaviour can teach us about ourselves and each other.

Frequently Bought Together

Our Inner Ape: The Best and Worst of Human Nature + Chimpanzee Politics: Power and Sex among Apes
Buy the selected items together

Product details

  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • Publisher: Granta Books; New edition edition (4 Sep 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1862078823
  • ISBN-13: 978-1862078826
  • Product Dimensions: 2 x 12.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 291,060 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Authors

Discover books, learn about writers, and more.

Product Description


  • An eagerly awaited publishing event... a revealing picture of the inner ape- what lies inside each and every one of us' Desmond Morris, author of The Naked Ape
  • 'A profoundly illuminating book on humans by a great primatologist' John Gray
  • 'De Waal's prose is as elegant and engrossing as ever' BBC Wildlife magazine
  • 'De Waal's love for the apes comes through strongly in his warm, well written description... De Waal tells a captivating and fascinating tale' Popular Science Review
  • 'De Waal has, accordingly, put new life into a debate that appeared to be running out of steam' Sunday Times
  • Including photographs by the author
  • For further information go to www.ourinnerape.com; author interview on Granta website

About the Author

Frans de Waal, Ph.D. is a biologist and ethologist. His 5 previous books, translated into 14 languages, include The Ape and the Sushi Master,/i>, a New York Times, Notable Book, and Peacemaking Among Primates. His research has been funded by NATO, the Guggenheim Foundation, and The National Geographic Society.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
Search inside this book:

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How special are you? 16 Nov 2005
By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAME
Primatology, the study of our ape cousins, must at once be the most rewarding and thankless jobs in science. On the one hand, these investigations can tell us more about ourselves than any philosophy or psychology curriculum can hope to impart. We learn of their friendships, conflicts, desires, social manipulations and group politics. The resemblances to humans make compelling reading. On the other hand, the long history of our culture has conditioned us to avoid recognising our evolutionary roots. There are "the animals" and there is "us".
With thirty years' experience in the Netherlands and the United States, de Waal wants us to understand how human values derive from primate origins. His careful studies have revealed things unexpected even to himself. His chief aim with this synopsis is to dispense with the many myths that have emerged over the past few years - chimpanzees as "murderers" or "war-makers"; bonobos as over-sexed and gender indifferent, both as "simply wild animals living at the command of "instinct". Diversity and individuality are a major facet of ape societies which, in de Waal's assessment, not only makes them worthy of study, but worthy of sound comparison with our own species.
At first glance, de Waal's condensation of ape behaviour into four topical chapters seems over-distillation. The material in those chapters, however, shows the complexity of primate personalities. Chimpanzee society is male-dominated, with young males taking every opportunity to displace the "alpha" group leader. They live in a strongly hierarchical society where the males hunt and dispense meat for sexual and other favours. Female chimpanzees form few alliances, although brief excursions with males other than the alpha occur.
Read more ›
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A genuinely wonderful - and important - read 29 Aug 2006
Primate behaviour books have a habit of plunging into mawkish sentimentality, or avoiding this by being so dry that they could be used to mop up spills. This one is a glorious exception. Written by a US-naturalised Dutch primate expert, his descriptive, emotional, carefully-measured, pithy and resonant writing perfectly walks the tightrope between observation and interpretation, and using this to explain aspects of human behaviour that we never even thought about before. He includes a lot of important information about chimpanzee and bonobo society, which is enthusiastic without being effusive, measured without being dull, and includes amusing and illuminating examples from humans, all their primate relatives, and beyond. Even his cat, Diego, gets a lookin. His further-reaching comments contextualise us neatly in the animal kingdom, while highlighting how our unique capacities might be turned towards improving the world in which we live. I have tried to fault it, but I can't. Read this book.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating 30 Aug 2007
The brilliance of this book lies chiefly in its ability to effortlessly convey complex sociological theories to a wide audience. Writing in a form that allows 'ordinary' people to appreciate and understand our fascinating relationships with our closest relatives without sacrificing any of its potency in the translation.

Our Inner Ape is basically a study of the development of human characteristics through the course of evolution, focusing mainly on mental aspects such as morality and empathy. Using behavioural experiments and extensive observations of both wild and captive apes (particularly chimps and bonobos) De Waal demonstrates how little we are removed from our primate cousins and theorises what factors might have steered the evolution of human mentality towards what it is today.

My favourite thing about this book is the inclusion of many anecdotes that the author has amassed over his decades of research. Some of these are truly overwhelming. Whether horrific, amusing, or emotional these stories really bring home not only the intelligence, but also the individuality of these animals as well as giving an insight into the social worlds of ape colonies.

The book could be much improved with more numerous and better quality pictures. There is a small group of old photos in the middle but these are all in black and white and are either facial close-ups or taken in a laboratory. Colour photographs with better captions and showing some of the behaviour discussed in the book would be a great improvement.

Although this is a relatively easy book to read and understand you need to pay attention to grasp many of the concepts. It moves at a fast pace and there is a lot to take in, but put the effort in and you will be glad you did.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down! 11 Oct 2010
I was not really into primatology until i read this book. The way Frans De Wall writes about us, the chimpanzees and bonobos is just mesmerising. Its is well written, easy to read and a facinating topic, with some horrifying and heart warming true tales from his experiences with these apes. I could not put this book down and read it from cover to cover. The little known bonobos come off better than either chimps or us, with their open matriarchal society. It really made me think more about human nature and where we came from!
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
I am severely disappointed with Frans De Waal's 'Our Inner Ape' book. Anecdotes of the behaviour of Bonobos and Chimpanzees were truly fascinating, emotionally tumultuous and revealing. But then the author attempts to apply personal hypothesis' to such behaviour which would be perfectly acceptable if it weren't for his blatant misunderstanding of established theory. Ignorant school boy errors such as reading the title of Dawkin's The Selfish Gene (mistaking this analogous reference to the replicators, our genes, and to how our body and mind exist only due to natural selection and sexual selection pressures as a vehicle to enable our genetic information to be replicated) and attempting to make some vague equation with this misunderstanding and a Thatcherite notion of promoting individualism. He later displays an apparent complete lack of awareness of Game Theory and Robert Axelrod's widely accepted evidence supporting the theory of reciprocal altruism and cooperation by purporting that "there never was any chaos: we [homo sapiens apparently, although I'd have at least opted for Australopithecus due to the widely accepted Environment of Evolutionary Adaptiveness (EEA), as a random starting point!] started out with a crystal clear hierarchical order and then found ways to level it." No. No and just simply no. That is how easily I can dismiss such drivel. I could provide an essay detailing the numerous ways that Frans De Waal is so awfully erroneous, but unlike him, I don't get paid to write flights of fancy let alone hard, irrefutable facts... Then again...

Just passed the half-way point Frans De Waal decides to offer the reader yet another little pearl of ignorance that he has been cultivating when he speaks of the "...split between humans and apes.
Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you?
Would you like to see more reviews about this item?
Were these reviews helpful?   Let us know

Customer Discussions

This product's forum
Discussion Replies Latest Post
No discussions yet

Ask questions, Share opinions, Gain insight
Start a new discussion
First post:
Prompts for sign-in

Search Customer Discussions
Search all Amazon discussions